Communication between people is not always a smooth and easy process. This can become a problem, especially with children. Do you feel that you have difficulty communicating with them? Do you feel that they do not explain everything you would like to know?
In this article you will find some guidelines that try to answer the following question: “how do I communicate better with my children? . These are key ideas that can be taken as a small guide for your communication with them to gain in quality, trust and transparency.
How to communicate better with my children
As you will see, we will try to answer the question of “how to communicate better with my children”, through 7 psycho-pedagogical guidelines. We must bear in mind that these must be adapted to the mental age, chronological age and evolutionary moment of each child , as well as to his or her personal characteristics:
1. Put yourself in his place (in two directions)
The first pattern seems simple, though it is not. It’s about putting yourself in his shoes, from two points of view: the psychological one (using empathy) and the physical one (sitting next to him, putting yourself at his level).
The second may seem to be an unimportant aspect, although it is not; it is very important that the child or adolescent feels understood and heard , and this is achieved not only with verbal language, but also with non-verbal language (hence the management of our physical space with it).
Just like adults, children respond to a lot of sensations, and these can connect you if the physical distance between you is less; that is why we recommend that you put yourself at their level, and from there, talk to them.
As for the other aspect mentioned, empathy, this will be essential to improve your communication with them, since through it your child will feel more understood and listened to. So, put yourself in their place, try to connect with what they feel at every moment, and hold their hand.
2. Find communication spaces (and time)
Another important aspect, and one that should be taken into account, in order to improve communication with your children, is to look for and promote spaces for communication with them. This includes not only looking for pleasant and quiet physical spaces to do so, but also moments (time). After all, the best thing we can give our children is our time.
A good idea is to look for a fixed day a week to do so, creating that space, for example before or after dinner, where the objective will be to share the day’s experiences, the emotional state, possible concerns, satisfactions, needs, etc.
This space can also be shared by other family members. The important thing is to communicate and let the conversation flow , from respect, acceptance and love.
3. Use a specific language
The next guideline on how to best communicate with your children is to use direct, specific and concrete language.
It is not easy for children (especially when they are younger) to understand abstract language ; that is why we can often feel that “they don’t understand us”, or even that “they don’t listen to us”. This has an easy solution; try using a more concrete language with them, with more direct ideas, without preambles or “ornaments”.
This will be especially useful when you have to talk about limits, guidelines, expected behavior, good habits, obligations, etc.
On the more emotional side, on the other hand, we can always increase the level of abstraction in our language, because it is also important that they do not stop learning this type of language and vocabulary (especially as they get older).
4. Don’t take anything for granted; ask
Often, and wrongly, we take for granted many things that are not really as we initially conceived them. This happens to all of us and to a certain extent it is normal; however, this fact can make communication with our children difficult, since, when we assume things that are not, we often do not ask, and misunderstandings end up being generated .
So the next guideline is this: ask whenever you need to, and don’t take anything for granted.
This will help you to promote a more real communication with them, more effective, transparent and fluid. In addition, it will make it easier for them to ask you when they have doubts about a particular issue.
5. Don’t judge him and avoid quarrels
The following advice should be specified; it’s not about never scolding your kids when there’s something they’re not doing right (although we opt more for psychoeducational techniques, where what they do right is reinforced and alternative behaviors are offered when there’s inappropriate behavior).
It is therefore a question of avoiding tending to quarrel “by system” , and of avoiding judging the behaviour of our children. There will be things that we will like, that we will think they can do better, and they will even test and challenge us… but, in these cases above all, we must try to remain calm.
6. Offer alternatives
In relation to the above pattern, what alternatives to judgmental behavior can we use with them? For example, make them see that their behaviour is not being appropriate (when this happens), through dialogue and exchange, not through authority, punishment or quarrelling .
Children, like everyone else, need alternative behaviours to improve their current behaviour; that is why it is not enough to scold or punish, and strategies should be sought to encourage real and deep change in them. So, don’t just tell them “don’t do this”, and use phrases like “do this” [X thing].
7. Remember when you were a child
Remember your childhood, your adolescence… What did you expect from your parents? Did you feel you could talk to them, or did you often feel like talking “against a wall”?
What would you have wished had been different, to open up more to them? All of these questions can connect you to the current situation, and can help you empathize with your children. Are you too nosy or invasive at times? Do you often show distance?
Do this little reflection exercise so that, through these questions and answers, you can try to think of how to improve your communication with them: remember that, in addition to being a parent, you can try to be their “friend” and a support for them .
- Comeche, M.I. and Vallejo, M.A. (2016). Handbook of behavioral therapy in childhood. Dykinson. Madrid.
- Ramirez, B.A. (2005). Parents and child development: parenting practices. Pedagogical studies (Valdivia).
- Servera, M. (2002). Intervention in children’s behaviour disorders. A behavioural systems perspective. Pyramid. Madrid.